Friday, June 29, 2012

All is Fair in Love and War



Yesterday I wrote about questionable business practices exercised by Amazon.com. Amazon has not always played fair when it comes to their third party retailers. They’ve undercut the price of the same product once it begins to do well. They’ve also placed their product ahead of third party retailers which helps Amazon sales. There are solutions to getting around Amazon’s race to the bottom in retail sales. No you don’t have to dump Amazon; you just have to play the game better.



Amazon has the capital and the size to lay siege to the castle. This means that they can drop their price to below cost to drive small retailers away from a once profitable product. While this isn’t always fair, it is a long standing business strategy. You can circumvent this strategy by simply having a unique product that Amazon can’t get its hands on. Case in point, just about any product featured on Esty.com. This unique on-line retail site features handcrafted or one of a kind items. They are hard to purchase in bulk and cannot be easily reproduced and sold again and again. Amazon doesn’t specialize in unique.



Another method of shorting Amazon’s fuse is to find a wholesaler who is concerned with their product reputation. These wholesalers and manufacturers take pride in their product and refuse to be undercut. They have minimum orders and a minimum pricing structure. These products are usually more expensive, either luxury items or bordering on luxury, but they have the potential for large profits and prestige. Think Rolex or Cartier. You would never see these brand names on Amazon and if you did you could be sure it was a cheap knock off, not the real McCoy. If it’s used you are more likely to see it on EBay.



Not everyone can craft products or swing a deal with a designer wholesaler or manufacturer. But as a society we need to look at the quality of the manufacturing, the customer service from the retailer and the cost to retail if we allow price to be the deciding factor when purchasing a product. Price is good but it shouldn’t be the only thing we think of when buying something. I’ve passed up some good pricing because I wasn’t sure I would get help if there was a problem or I wasn’t sure of the products origins. Amazon is starting to act like that guy selling Gucci out of the back of a car, while it may look good on the surface, it’s the wrong thing to do.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Competing Against the Big Boys


Pillow Pet causes kerfuffle

Just about everyone has sold something on EBay at one time or another. The same can’t be said of Amazon.com even though they have a lot of third party sellers. Small retailers sell a lot of merchandise through Amazon Marketplace each year and are successful. A funny thing about Amazon as compared to EBay, at least EBay doesn’t sell against you.



A recent Wall Street Journal article explains how Amazon is sometimes using its small retailers to test the waters on products. As an example, a small retailer was selling pillow type stuffed animals with sports team logos and doing quite a good business. At least they were until Amazon got into the business and began selling the exact same pillow sports team animals, at a much lower price. Amazon came into direct competition with the small retailer and promptly took away quite a bit of his business. Is this really fair?



Amazon.com has 85 million unique visitors each month, many more visitors than EBay, about 45% more. Amazon is an internet behemoth and many smaller retailers flock to Amazon to cash in on their vast internet viewership. In fact, some retailers boast about how Amazon has increased their sales and business. Amazon also has a fulfillment center that allows smaller businesses to store their stock within Amazon warehouses for shipment. Amazon holds the stock and ships it out for the retailer for a small percentage of the sale.



The real problem comes when Amazon begins selling the same product as one already featured by a third party seller. Amazon doesn’t just sell the same product; they frequently undercut the price and feature their own product over a third party seller. The product will be placed in the “buy box” and unless buyers delve a little deeper, they miss other third party sellers. The retail industry is really tough and while there are no rules that large corporations have to play fair, it’s just rotten to create a place for competition where small retailers can’t win. At least at EBay you only have to compete with other retailers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What is Luxury?


Do you image a life of luxury like this?

Over the centuries the definition of luxury and what it means has changed. Things that we now take for granted were once considered luxuries. Take the electric light, indoor plumbing and even glass windows. These were all items for the wealthy to own and enjoy when they first came out. Now we wouldn’t consider buying or living in a home without these simple amenities. Part of the reason these items are not considered luxuries today is because they have become commonplace.



Money has never gone out of style, but what money can buy to symbolize wealth has changed. Edward Cecil Guinness, the first Earl of Iveagh was an art collector. The purpose was to decorate his mansion in Mayfair. When society came calling they could gaze upon a substantial art collection. This collection symbolized wealth. His wealthiest neighbors knew the Earl was the wealthiest among them. Although vast art collections are still considered a luxury today.


A beautiful sunset can be a luxury

Wallis Simpson who later became the Duchess of Winsor claimed that platinum was the only jewelry that could be worn in the evenings. This created a fashion trend that many wealthy women indulged in. I’m sure that others in the socioeconomic scale tried to follow suit. Platinum, an extremely rare metal has always commanded high prices. Platinum jewelry was therefore a luxury.



Now that gold is topping the scales, it can be claimed as a luxury. Gold is relatively commonplace, but its high price makes it a luxury. As tastes change and prices go up and down, we will also reevaluate what we consider to be a luxury. For some, vacations to exotic lands or designer clothing and jewelry are a luxury. For others, an expensive bottle of perfume is all the luxury they can afford. Personally, luxury is that little something that makes me feel special, whether it’s rare, high priced or not.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fakes and Frauds



Just as the fashion industry has to contend with counterfeit products, the jewelry industry has to contend with “enhanced” stones and metal mixtures. There is technically nothing fraudulent with adding something to a gemstone or coloring a pearl, as long as it is disclosed upon purchase. The unfortunate aspect of enhancing any piece of jewelry is when the consumer has no knowledge.



Recently there were some alarming articles concerning the submission of a large batch of synthetic diamonds to IGI for grading. This is particularly troublesome since it is difficult to distinguish a synthetic diamond from a real diamond outside of a lab. Additionally, the submissions were made without disclosure, meaning they didn’t say the diamonds were synthetic. So either the company submitting didn’t know they were synthetic or they were trying to pull a fast one. Either way the consumer could have been swindled if they got out of the lab.



There has also been a lot of news about enhanced gemstones and pearls. Lead glass filling of rubies makes them brighter and prettier. It removes flaws and fractures to the naked eye. Once again there is nothing wrong unless the consumer is led to believe they are purchasing a natural stone. The same is true of pearls. Pearls can be dyed to match any number of colors. A popular trend right now, but not all colored pearls are natural. I’ve gone into many jewelry stores and asked if their pearl are natural and all respond in the positive. Hmmm…



Platinum is one of the rarest metals on earth. It is mixed with other metals, just as gold is mixed. No one wears 24 karat gold jewelry, it would be too malleable. Also, just like gold, platinum should be stamped to indicate content. PT950 indicates that the platinum is 95% pure. Other metals are added to make the precious metal stronger and allow heat treating to add spring to tension settings. Generally, platinum alloys do not have metal memory so once its cast it stays that way. Many questionable practices abound in the jewelry industry which is why you should always purchase from a reputable dealer, ask questions and educate your self before purchase. It could save you a lot of money in the long run.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Refurbish That Handbag


When you find the perfect handbag, you never want to let it go

Many of us spend a small fortune on our accessories. This includes handbags. Sometimes they are literally worn to death. The handbag, while beloved, is scuffed, scratched and beaten during the course of its lifetime. A well made handbag with top quality material usually lasts the longest and for this reason I usually purchase well know designer or manufactured bags. But did you know you can have a handbag refurbished?



If you have a small repair, such as stitching unraveling or a small scuff, you can take your handbag to a local shoe repair store and they can fix it up for you. Let’s face it, shoe repair people are familiar with repairing leather goods and your handbag is made from leather. Try and get a recommendation from a trusted friend if you don’t know any good shoe repair people. Another place to take your worn handbag for repair is back to the manufacturer.


Evening bags are notorious for needing repairs

Some people may not know this, but many boutiques and stores where you purchased your handbag can take it back and send it to the manufacturer for repair. This is true of Dooney & Bourke, Chanel and Coach. You can go to their websites for more information and instructions on how to begin the repair process. While I have yet to use one of these services, it is one of the reasons I purchase Dooney & Bourke. I know that I’m getting a top quality, well made handbag, but if it should have an issue during its lifetime, it can be repaired.



We all have a perfect handbag that has given years of service and we hate to see it go. We’ve all worn a handbag with a few scuffs and scratches but I’m sure that over time it may become too embarrassing to wear. It’s like a favorite pair of shoes. Comfortable, stylish and perfect, but worn too often they become worn out. So instead of stuffing that worn handbag into its dust cover and putting it in the closet, try having it refurbished for further wear. In this economy it makes great financial sense to refurbish instead of replace.

Friday, June 22, 2012

For Flip Flopping Weather, Dress in Layers


Totally chic layered look

I’m not sure how the weather behaves where you are, but here it can be quite frustrating. The day before yesterday was sunny, bright and approaching triple digits. Yesterday is was cloudy, windy and cold. As I drove across the Bay Area to a friend’s house the weather went from cloudy to sunny and back to cloudy. Our weather has a personality disorder and can’t make up its mind. This flip flopping weather can make dressing for the day a little difficult. May I suggest layers?



Now that summer is officially here you know you’re going to get some really hot days. Where I live this is also true but I never know when that day will be. This usually means you see people dressed in sundresses, shorts and sandals just as it’s getting ready to rain. There is a solution and it involves wearing layers. You start with a base that you can add to or subtract from. A sleeveless sheath dress or a pair of slacks or skinny jeans with a sleeveless top work great, keep the base slim, you don’t want anything bulky. Next add a light cardigan or blazer that can be removed if the weather heats up or cools down. If it’s casual, go for a jean jacket, maybe in a great color other than denim.


Marc Jacob's does it right

Next comes one of my favorite accessories, the scarf. The scarf is an extremely versatile accessory. It can be worn around your neck, draped over your shoulders or simply removed if the weather gets too hot. Go for prints and keep the fabric light and summery. Tribal and ethnic motifs are not only current they’re casual and summery. Stay away from scarves with too much bulk or wintery fabrics like wool or cashmere. Stick with loose weaves of cotton or linen for a summery look.



The final accessory, other than your jewelry, is a large bag or tote. As the weather heats up or cools down you will need a place to put that scarf or maybe your cardigan. If you have a large tote you can stash that scarf and still look polished. Besides, who wants to carry around a jacket or scarf all day? I’m a California gal so I’m rarely without my car, I usually keep a jacket stashed in the trunk for weather changes, but when I’m away, a large tote works great. It’s also a great place to stash those little items when I’m out shopping, no bulky bags to wrangle. So today looks like a layer day, at least around here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is Amazon Killing Mom & Pop?


It's hard to take on the big boys

Is the internet killing retail? This has been a huge question that continues to run around marketing and business circles. Even the President is asking this question. The common theory goes something like this; people come to retail establishments to browse and look at the product but go home and cruise the internet to find the best price. The consumer subsequently orders on-line thereby finding the best prices and potentially avoiding sales tax. Many on-line sellers have free shipping with minimum orders, so the shipping cost becomes moot.



Best Buy has announced the closing of 50 of their stores and we all know about the slow and painful death of Circuit City. The electronics gadget industry is a prime example of finding what you want in a store and then buying it on-line. But is buying something from one guy based solely on price a good idea? I’m not knocking on-line retailers, but I’m never sure if the best price is really the best deal. Besides, if Best Buy disappears where will you go to look at electronics?

 Are they too old fashioned to earn your business?

Buying something based solely on price shifts all the business to the company that can offer the lowest price. The real question becomes, how can they offer a price that is substantially lower than their competitors? This company must be purchasing from a wholesalers at substantially lower prices in order to offer their bargains. They maybe purchasing large quantities and receiving discounts. This is good for the company as they can corner the market on supply while offering lower prices to consumers. But what if they are cutting a corner somewhere else? If their price from the wholesaler is good but not that good, the company in question can be reducing their customer service or quality control in order to be the lowest price on the market. How many times have you received a product in the mail that didn’t work? Even once is too much.



Just as there are “Mom & Pop” retail stores on Main Street, there are “Mom & Pop” stores on the internet. These small internet retailers get good pricing through their wholesalers but they don’t buy in massive quantities so it’s probably not as good as the big boys. What “Mom & Pop” stores offer is customer service. They personally check the merchandise before it goes out. They handle each sale and follow it through. If you have a question, usually one person answers it and helps you with your decision. If retail becomes based solely on price, soon we will only have one choice. The guy with the lowest price becomes your only choice, because he will shove everyone else out of the market, kind of like what the internet did to Circuit City.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Begins


Two different looks, the scarf and clutch go with both


Its official, summer begins today. In my area we have actually had some pretty warm weather. Hot days and warm nights make for summer dressing. It’s time to break out the summer attire. This means sundresses and sandals. A sundress is actually an easy way to get dressed in the morning. Dresses are a complete outfit. No matching a top to a bottom, just find the right pair of shoes or sandals and you’re done, sort of.



Sundresses also lend themselves to accessories. A hot trend and a really good look is the maxi sundress. I’ve seen quite a few ladies out and about wearing this trend and I have to say it’s quite attractive. It’s important to find a maxi dress with a fitted bodice; otherwise you’ll end up looking like your wearing a Mumu. Simple sandals with a low heel, maybe 1-1 ½ inches looks best. You don’t want the wear huge platforms or stilettos; it will look like you’re trying too hard. Also a maxi sundress is a casual look so you don’t want to clutter it up with something too dressy.



Casual and cute with a jean jacket

Next comes accessories. I’ve seen these same maxi sundresses worn with cool cotton or linen Ikat scarves. A patterned scarf looks great with a solid colored or small simple patterned sundress. You don’t want the two fabrics competing with each other. Now a scarf looks best with either a spaghetti strap or very thin sleeveless designs. You also want an open neckline. This way the scarf doesn’t look like it’s swallowing up your neck, or you’re trying to fight off cold weather, nothing bulky. Also don’t wear a scrap of material, it will only look odd and unbalanced, if you’re going to show skin, show it.



Sundresses are a great look with your hair in a pony or just half up and half down. Show off your neck and a great pair of earrings. Going small and delicate on the earrings is good if you’ve got the scarf thing going on, but make sure you’ve got some awesome cuffs or bold bracelets. A sundress is a great casual yet finished summer outfit. Perfect for going out sightseeing or stopping by the coffee shop to meet with some friends. Personally I might try one of these looks this summer, it looks totally comfortable yet dressy enough to look pulled together. Happy first day of summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Accessory Dos and Don'ts


Accessories make the outfit

Accessory dos and don’ts…really? I’ve seen quite a few articles lately about how to put accessories together. Some pertain to going on a job interview, what to wear in an office environment and how to change it up for a night out after work. While I think some of these articles have a few good tips, do they go overboard in trying to rein in creativity?



Part of the fun of accessories is making an ordinary outfit your own. When forced to wear a standard yet acceptable “uniform” in a work environment we start looking like clones. Accessories add personality to an outfit. Now I’m not talking about those who actually wear a uniform to work. I’m talking about those who are subjected to a dress code, slightly different. I’m also not advocating for wearing large purple hats and feather boas to work. But you should try and add interest to your outfit through the addition of accessories.



Why not add color?

Think tasteful yet interesting. If forced to wear a blazer, why not dress it up with a scarf? Earrings don’t always have to be demure studs. You can wear size appropriate hoops and even dangles as long as they’re not too long or large. Just remember to keep everything else neat. There is nothing wrong with wearing a large bracelet, as long as it isn’t noisy. No one wants to hear every hand movement you make, think bold cuff or a large ceramic watch with a bold face.


I think businesses are much more lenient about personal style today. My bank has a young teller who wears a small nose stud. Everything else she wears is conservative and she even wears simple makeup. She looks professional. On the other hand I once had a teller who had ear piercing from the bottom of her lobe all the way around to the top…on both ears. She wore studs but in a rainbow of colors. I always thought this was slightly over the top and not very professional. I vote for accessories, not flamboyant over the top props.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Younger Looking Eyes

Minimal make up for a more youthful look

As I begin my foray into a new decade I start to wonder about the aging process. We all want to look as young as possible, for as long as possible. There are tons of creams and potions out on the market that claim to “erase signs of aging.” There are also as many procedures to plump up or tuck away those pesky wrinkles. But what can we do to make ourselves look as young as we can with spending a fortune or going under the knife?



I’ve seen some recent articles that give tips on looking younger and the eyes are a focal point. One article touted eye make up techniques. When making up your eyes, less is more. Stay away from heavy foundations and powders in the eye area. Too much make up will just sink into the lines and create more emphasis. Also don’t go too dark with your eye shadow colors. A light honey or flesh tone across the lid will blend away discoloration and bring eyes out. Apparently a lot of dark liner is a no-no. It just makes your eyes dated.


Less is more

I thought about a younger looking eye and asked myself, “What does a younger eye look like?” Young girls rarely wear lots of mascara and eye make up. So blobbing on the eye make up will probably make my eyes look older. By going au natural we mimic what we want to emulate. If you just enhance what you have instead of trying to change it, you might have better results. This means a minimum of mascara and lighter shadows. Use liner sparely and stick to brown and use black only if you must. Remember a light hand!



I also noticed that young girls don’t pluck their eyebrows. A thin or sparse eyebrow does not signal youth. Now I’m not advocating for the no maintenance eyebrow. Just make sure you aren’t overdoing it. This also means don’t over groom. The perfect eyebrow can also make you look older. It’s hard, but find that balance between overdone and not done at all. I’m not sure if these tips will work for everyone but since I’m somewhat lazy, I’m giving it a try. So far my dental hygienist said I look younger, that was the day I wore lip gloss and no eye shadow. Maybe it works.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ceramic and Stainless Steel Jewelry

Large links with a dash of color

I’ve been seeing a lot of ceramic watches on women’s wrists. I’ve also noticed quite a few ceramic and stainless steel bracelets lately. I probably spend an inordinate amount of time looking at the jewelry that others are wearing because I want to know what others like and why. I do stop short of asking questions, unless the situation lends itself to questions. Although many women are happy to talk jewelry and are happy to tell you about their great fashion finds.



Ceramic watch bands and alternative metal jewelry is nothing new. It’s been around for a while and because gold prices keep inching upward I don’t see it coming out of the spotlight anytime soon. What is interesting is how designers are combining ceramics with stainless steel. The chunky look is still on trend and unless you’ve recently won the lottery, a heavy bracelet made of gold will be hard to afford.


Black and silver, the new neutral

With the use of stainless steel you can wear a chunky and edgy bracelet or necklace and not have to take a second mortgage out on the house. With the addition of ceramic to the links, you can add color. The color combinations of white and silver or black and silver have been very popular but any color can be added. Look for blues, greens and even yellows to add a pop of color to your wrist.



Women still want to be fashionable and many would love to emulate the rich and famous, but we’re not and we can’t. There is a huge segment of society who actually has a clothing and accessory budget and we stick to it. Adding stainless steel as an alternative metal to your jewelry wardrobe can open the door for some really interesting and eye catching looks. So if you’re looking to add something edgy to that light summer dress, think about a stainless steel and colored ceramic bracelet, it will cut the sweetness and make that outfit party ready.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Decorating Ourselves



Yesterday I had to go in for an MRI. Apparently the first rule of preparing for an MRI is to not wear any metal. This means you can’t wear any jewelry whatsoever. When I got in the car to drive to my appointment I commented to my husband that it felt weird to have no jewelry on, his reply “You look naked.”



If you’re like me, you get used to the sensation of jewelry on your body. Even when I’m just going to the grocery store I’m wearing a minimum of a watch, diamond stud earrings and two rings. If I’m getting dressed up I could be wearing up to five rings, a bracelet or two, and my watch and maybe some fancy earrings. The actual line up of jewelry will vary with my outfit.


My present was waiting on the porch

Over time those who wear jewelry have a connection to each piece and it doesn’t feel right to go out without it. It’s like leaving a good friend at home while you’re out having fun. Even if I’m just going down to the bookstore or to hang out at Starbucks I want to bring my jewelry along. It makes me feel complete. Now some people will think this is weird, but to those who are true jewelry junkies you know what I mean. It would be like leaving the house without pants.



On the bright side, the MRI went relatively quickly and it wasn’t nearly as disturbing as everyone told me it would be since they gave me ear plugs. Plus when I got home my beautiful Dooney & Bourke Wilson leather bag that was ordered earlier in the week was sitting on my front porch. Happy birthday to me! So while I didn’t get to wear jewelry while going out yesterday, bummer. I did get to transfer my stuff into a new purse that afternoon and it looks fabulous. Oh happy day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Men and Their Watches


I was talking to my husband about jewelry the other day, it’s my favorite subject. He was telling me that he rarely sells women’s watches. The ratio is somewhere around twenty to twenty-five to one for men’s watches to women’s watches respectively. He was a little baffled by this because he knows that women wear watches. I have a theory.



Women wear watches but we also wear jewelry. We adorn ourselves from our head (tiaras and gem encrusted hair clips) to the tips of our toes (toe rings and anklets). There is also all that space in between to dress up with something sparkly. While my husband has a huge box of watches to choose from everyday, I only have two. There is an everyday watch that I wear and another that I wear for more dressy occasions. This is usually enough and fits my needs when it comes to watches. I believe it is the volume of jewelry possibilities that keeps my watch collection small.



For men, watches are now becoming their jewelry. Something they wear to show status and style, not just the time. After all, if you just wanted to know the time you could always refer to your cell phone, and this is precisely what many have been doing for years. The fashion resurgence of the watch shows that men want to get in the game of jewelry. While a man may shy away from wearing rings or ID bracelets, few will stay away from a really cool watch. Plus many modern watches have features beyond date and time.



My husband has watches with alarms, stop watches, skeleton bodies, and a host of other gadgets that would make any man proud. From my point of view watches seem more sophisticated and technologically advanced then they were twenty years ago. Maybe this is why they are becoming more popular. So with Father’s Day right around the corner, consider a watch for the man in your life, he might just love an addition to his collection.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Women and Fashion


Fashionable women on the street

There is a recent study done in the UK with approximately 1000 women that shows that women have fashion on the brain, pretty much all the time. Apparently, women on average think about fashion 91 times a day. This would mean that women think about fashion every 11 minutes and 23 seconds. I guess fashion is to women what sex is to men. (Remember that other study that said men think about sex every few minutes.)



Women also visit fashion related websites about 6 times per day. This statistic seemed a little low to me. I know I visit a fashion related website of some sort about 20 times per day and the ones I like a lot get more visits. The study also showed that women get lost in “fashion thought” about 62% of the time. So women spend most of their day thinking about fashion.


Old West Ballgown

Now these numbers may seem a little high or low, depending on what you personally do during your day, but I have to admit, women probably do think about fashion a lot. It’s not just fashion per se, it’s everything about fashion. Do these shoes go with that dress? Can I get away with wearing brown with black? Should I wear my hair up or down? Just don’t get me started on what to wear to a big event like a wedding, charity event or huge party.



While it may seem ridiculous that women spend so much time thinking about fashion, it is with good results. Overall I would have to say that I see quite a few fashionable women walking around on the street, and this is a good thing. It was once pointed out that after the Civil War when America was expanding westward, women were the ones who brought fashion and civilization to society. Women wore colorful dresses, decorated their homes and wanted schools and meeting houses. So when you’re lost in fashion thought, take comfort, you’re just making the world a more beautiful and civilized place.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Luxury


LVMH Icon Ad with Soviet Leader Mr. Gorbachev

I read a book last year called Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster, by Dana Thomas. The book discussed how luxury goods went from the world of aristocracy and royals to ordinary folks like you and me. Apparently, at one time luxury goods were reserved for a special group and the rest of the population was relegated to whatever they could find. Nowadays the concept of luxury could be more about marketing than actual quality.



When Oprah was turned away from Hermes in Paris because they were preparing for an event it only increased their cachet, although Hermes has since apologized to Ms. Winfrey. Luxury has always been about rarity, exclusiveness and quality. Waiting lists are not rare in this realm and getting your hands on a luxury product can be a chore. Remember “Samantha’s quest” for a red Birkin handbag in Sex in the City? She used a celebrity’s’ name (Lucy Liu) to get to the top of the two year waiting list.



Luxury today seems to be essentially about having something that is perceived as rare or only for royalty. LVMH has been successfully running their icon advertisements featuring world leaders and celebrities. The ads show how a rare group is sporting their products, but is this truth or marketing?



Personally, I’m more interested in quality as opposed to a logo. I purchase a designer handbag because the materials and workmanship are superior, not because it screams my status to everyone. The unfortunate part about this equation is many do not recognize quality as a reason to purchase a particular product. Remember, just because a company has a brilliant ad campaign doesn’t mean the product is superior. By the same token, just because a product has little advertising doesn’t mean it’s inferior. Let quality be the judge, the age old standard.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

You Should Get Your Birthday Off


The Wilson leather handbag by Dooney & Bourke

I’m a firm believer that it should be federal law that you are not required to work on your birthday. You shouldn’t have to go to work, clean your house, run errands or cook dinner. A birthday only happens once a year and we should take full advantage of this opportunity. Since I can’t go jewelry shopping, that was last week, I don’t want to work. Now there are many people who don’t think that I actually work anyways, but anytime you can’t do as you please, there is a little work involved.



My Mother-in-law was the one who said we should celebrate our birthdays to the fullest. She believed that as we age we should be able to extend our birthdays from one day to a full week. Kind of like getting additional vacation time the longer you work for a company. I’ve latched onto this theory and am going to run with it. So I’m taking tomorrow off to celebrate my birthday. It’s like taking a mental health day but with cake and ice cream. This means there won’t be a posting on my blog, but after a three day weekend of fun and frivolity I will be fresh for a new week.


Tangerine is pretty nice too

Now in the birthday present department I’ve done the usual pricing out of jewelry. Not that I don’t love jewelry, but I do have quite the jewelry wardrobe. I was thinking of maybe a Dooney & Bourke handbag. In particular I was thinking the Wilson leather handbag. It would be a great summer handbag, especially if I purchase it in bone. Its leather so it will last and the light color will go well with my summer outfits. It’s one of the few handbag colors I need to complete my collection. For all of you men out there, yes, women have handbag collections and we’re proud of them.



The styling is on point with a structured silhouette and two tones for versatility. The straps are long enough to sling the bag over my shoulder, yet structured enough to be carried by hand. Since I’m a pretty conservative dresser this handbag is perfect. It’s not that I don’t love the bright colors like cherry or tangerine; I just like to have a ton of versatility when I spend a small fortune on a leather handbag. So Friday is my birthday and I’m going to be out celebrating, not writing a blog or doing anything that remotely resembles work and I fully support everyone doing the same on their birthday.


Live each day as if it were your last, and one day you’ll be right ~ Benny Hill

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Statement Ring


A statement ring worn elegantly and alone

Statement rings are those rings that well…make a statement. They are usually large and impressive. They are the type of ring that is noticed by all those around the wearer. I love a statement ring. A large ring worn singularly on the hand has been a hot trend and upon further investigation it is still hot. JCK has featured many statement rings this year and many have used this fashion accessory as part of their advertising. After all, who wouldn’t want to show off these rings in an ad?



One of the best ways to wear a statement ring is to let the ring be the star. It should be large enough to stand alone. No bracelets, no cuffs and minimal sleeve embellishments or distractions. While this ring can be worn on your ring finger it seems to balance better when worn on the middle or index finger. Now it is not always possible to wear a statement ring on your index finger since sizing can be an issue. I have particularly large fingers and my index finger does not accommodate anything remotely women sized. I usually wear my statement rings on my middle finger sans other rings.

 Le Vian added bands of chocolate and white diamonds to make their statement

Now I know that large statement rings are still hot because I am still seeing them around. In fact they are more advertisements showing this style of ring than ever before. Le Vian has designed several cuffs, banded and large rings for this season. They are using many different types of gemstones and settings so there is probably something for every personal taste and budget. Don’t forget that Roberto Coin is featuring this stunner also.



So whether you like moonstones, chocolate diamonds or jade, statements can say a lot. Look for a setting that is comfortable and reflects your personal style. It is a single piece of jewelry that can grab the attention of many so you want it to say who you are and what you are about. I guess that is the purpose of a statement ring.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stacking Jewelry


Who wouldn't love this on their wrist?

As many of my readers know, I’m a big fan of anything stacking. This is probably because I still have that fairy princess mentality and like to pile on the jewelry. Kind of like a five year old having a tea party with their stuffed animals. Stacking jewelry is made for people like me. I wear stacking rings on a regular basis, partly because I think wearing rings on several of my fingers at once gives me a bohemian look. To me, jewelry is the icing on the cake of our outfits and most everyone loves icing on their cake.



Just as cuff bracelets and large bangles are still de rigueur, stacking jewelry seems to be everywhere. Every manufacturer and wholesaler has developed their own line and is now running with it. This is awesome because it gives the consumer a large selection of retailers, the ultimate purchaser, to choose from when looking to add stacking jewelry to their repertoire.


The options are endless

Stacking your bracelets has been a fashion “do” for quite awhile and women still love it. Brands such as Cora, Le Vian and others are stacking their bracelets. This gives the wearer options in creating their own look. While a cuff bracelet makes a bold statement, a wrist full of stacked bracelets also says something bold, but subtly. Bracelets that are stacked up your wrist have more movement. They’re fun and perfect for summer because they’re light and airy.



It’s also amazing how many different materials designers and manufacturers are using. Stacking bracelets are made of the usual sterling silver and gold, with or without gems, but now we are seeing more enamel and natural material. Leather, alternative metals, wood inlaid and even woven fabric are popping up as fashion accessories in the stacking jewelry realm. It’s great to see an expansion of something that I love so much. So now the hard part begins...what should I add to my jewelry wardrobe? After all, summer short sleeves and sleeveless clothing is the perfect venue for stacking bracelets.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bracelets, Bracelets and More Bracelets


Always one of my favorites, David Yurman

There are bracelets everywhere and they are still a fashion accessory staple. There are cuff bracelets, stacking bracelets and beaded charm bracelets. The usual designers are all present and accounted for and the materials used are endless. I saw bracelets made from natural materials, wood and beads, as well as natural stone and jade. There are of course the sterling silver and gold bracelets that appear every year. It is shocking to see so much 14 karat gold on display since gold is still immensely expensive. Although I have to say that I kind of like all the yellow gold bracelets, even though I’m not a fan of yellow gold.



The cuff style bracelet is still huge and the number of different designs can be mind boggling. There are modern military cuffs made of a solid strips of brass with a large and obvious hinge. No trying to figure out where the clasp is on this bracelet. The brass is then embellished with tortoise shell in smooth oval or rectangle shapes at random intervals around the cuff. Truly unique and a bracelet worth coveting.

 Flexible gold cuff, would be awesome in sterling silver

The cuff bracelet doesn’t have to be large and imposing. There are a number of different takes on this now ubiquitous bracelet. Cuff bracelets can be woven, showing off an open pattern design which has been present for a number of years in David Yurman’s designs. The nice thing about David Yurman is how he takes into consideration whether his customer would like yellow gold or white gold. This is important if you’re matching existing jewelry or a particular outfit.



So don’t worry that those cuff bracelets you purchased earlier in the year are going out of fashion. They’re still a big hit and popping up everywhere.  Some of my favorite looks are of course, anything by David Yurman, preferably in yellow gold worn with crisp whites. Break out those white jeans and a loose silk shirt; it will look spectacular with a wide yellow gold cuff. I also love a flexible sterling silver woven cuff worn with blush or pink, so summery. A touch of silver with blush tones looks great everywhere you go.